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2020 NFL team previews: The Miami Dolphins are this year’s dark horse

The Dolphins made some huge moves this offseason, and really could take the next step in 2020.

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins looked so bad to start the 2019 season that apparently some in the locker room were requesting a trade directly after their season opener. The eventual NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens smoked them 59-10, and many speculated that the team would eventually go 0-16. Star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a first-round pick.

Miami did not go 0-16, though. They ended up winning five games. It was enough to not embarrass themselves, but not too many that they missed out on a chance at a potential franchise quarterback.

Believe it or not, the Dolphins have a chance in the AFC East this season. The division is for the taking and potentially as weak as ever, and Miami made some moves that should excite fans. Somehow, the Dolphins have gone from the bottom to playoff dark horse in only a year.

The NFL season is almost upon us! Over the next few weeks I will be previewing each of the 32 NFL teams, and ranking them 1-32 as to how likely I believe they are to win Super Bowl LV. This week we continue the list with teams on the fringe of the playoff conversation.

28. New York Jets
27. Carolina Panthers
26. Detroit Lions
25. Las Vegas Raiders
24. New York Giants

23. Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tua Tagovailoa is one of the most hyped up college prospects to arrive in recent years. He took over on the biggest stage in college football in the 2018 National Championship game, and ever since, #TankForTua became a rallying cry for fanbases of bad teams. Even I myself got in on it despite the Lions obviously already having a quarterback.

Miami ended up winning the Tagovailoa sweepstakes when they selected him fifth overall in the 2020 NFL draft. Despite a serious hip injury that ended his final year at Alabama early, Tagovailoa is likely to end up starting for the team Week 1 as he had an impressive training camp for a rookie.

Tagovailoa is obviously the most exciting, headline-making addition the team made, but he is far from the only one. He is not even the best addition they made.

Miami inked former Dallas Cowboys corner Byron Jones to a five-year deal worth over $82 million. Jones is an elite man-coverage corner who is as physical as they come. He will be playing across Xavien Howard—who got a mega-deal from the team a year earlier—forming one of the league’s best corner duos. Add in first round pick Noah Igbinoghene out of Auburn at nickel, and Miami could have put together a great secondary for themselves.

Upfront, Christian Wilkins returns after a great rookie year, and he could become an elite interior defender the team can build around. They also added Kyle Van Noy on defense, whose career took off once he left the Detroit Lions for the New England Patriots.

The offense has a bit going for it as well. DeVante Parker finally became a regular season star after being a training camp star for years before 2019. First round left tackle Austin Jackson could be a boone to an offensive line that has been terrible for as long as I can remember. Jordan Howard and Matt Breida—two more additions they made in free agency—should be a nice thunder and lightning duo out of the backfield.

Miami surprisingly has some star power on the roster. They have enough individual talent that they should be able to hang with anyone and might steal a few games from teams that should be much better than them.

While they might shine bright, there is not much depth here. The offensive line still will not be very good, Breida and Howard may be beyond their primes, and the front seven still has real flaws beyond Wilkins and Van Noy.

If Miami stays healthy and all of their addition fit in immediately, they are a playoff team. That may be a little too much to ask for, though.